Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Kuster, C 2011, 'In search of common ground: towards a model for the integration of local and scientific perspectives in the selection of community-based Marine protected areas', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright C Kuster 2011

Abstract

A key challenge in selecting community-based Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is to identify sites for protection that are both socially acceptable and ecologically viable. It is increasingly argued that in order to meet this challenge, the values, knowledge and priorities of both local communities and scientists need to be integrated. However, little attention has been given to examining how local and scientific values and knowledge can be integrated in the process of selecting community-based MPAs. Studies on the topic tend to either simply state the need for participation and dialogue, or present methods for group interaction or achieving consensus. It appears that no attempt has been made to draw on existing theory relating to the intricacies and interrelationships between values, ecological knowledge and context, and to examine them in real-life situations to inform the challenge of integration.

This thesis explores how local and scientific values and knowledge can be integrated in the selection of community-based MPAs, with the aim of developing a model to guide the process of integration.

To provide insights into the integration of local and scientific perspectives, three Fijian customary fishing grounds encompassing coral reef ecosystems are chosen as case studies, as they represent marine environments were local and scientific priorities are coming into increasing contact. Collectively, the case studies provide a tool to examine conflict, common ground and complementarities between local and scientific: values relating to coral reef biodiversity; assessments of the status of coral reef resources; and knowledge of coral reef ecosystems. These comparisons are informed by a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods, and are underpinned by a social constructivist perspective which recognizes the need to examine values and knowledge within the broader context in which they are embedded.

The case study analyses provide insights into the range of interrelated factors influencing local and scientific values and ecological knowledge. These insights provide the basis for the development of a model to guide the integration of local and scientific perspectives in the selection of community-based MPAs. It is proposed that the model could facilitate community-scientist interactions and increase the likelihood of more effective integration of local and scientific values and knowledge. The model and the insights which underpin it, build on existing theoretical and practical research into aspects relating to biodiversity values, ecological knowledge, and their integration. The theoretical, practical and future research implications of the thesis are discussed.

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